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ATLANTA -- New shopper research has identified five platforms that convenience store operators should explore for growth opportunities, providing retailers with a roadmap to follow as they venture on a profitable path.
The platforms are:
- My Time -- shoppers want to take a break from the rat race and catch their breath.
- Female Friendly -- shoppers want to feel welcome, comfortable and safe in the store environment.
- My Place -- shoppers want a familiar, good experience along with being recognized as part of the store community.
- Fresh Value Fast -- fresh means decent quality food and maybe even a little "better for you."
- Family Time -- shoppers are looking for a way to treat the kids without breaking the bank.
These new insights mark the second installment of the NACS/Coca-Cola Retailing Research Council (NACS/CCRRC) report, entitled "C-Growth: Using Shopper Research to Grow C-Store Sales." The first installment, which was released on Feb. 22, revealed five essentials c-store shoppers are looking for: safety, cleanliness, hospitality, simplicity and ease, and time enrichment. The final installment of the report will be released prior to this year's NACS State of the Industry Summit, taking place April 3-5. "Competition from other channels and today's on-the-go lifestyle present challenges -- and opportunities -- for retailers," said Bill Bishop, research director, NACS/CCRRC. "By engaging shoppers in new ways, retailers have the potential to reinvent the reasons people make purchases at their outlets."
The latest findings show that shoppers want control and look for stores that make it easy for them to take their time and browse -- what NACS/CCRRC calls "My Time." Shoppers do not want to be rushed, but when they are ready to check out, they expect a store's staff to help them get on their way quickly, not wasting time in long lines or slow checkouts.
As part of that control, shoppers want to feel like they are taking care of themselves and not sacrificing food quality. "Fresh Value Fast" emphasizes that shoppers want fresh, made-to-order items with toppings they select, according to the study.
Female-friendly stores are also important. Specifically, female shoppers want to visit stores that feel safe and comfortable. Part of this, the NACS/CCRRC report found, is a staff that is professional and does not infringe on the shopper's personal space or make them feel uncomfortable.
The fourth growth platform is "Family Time." Shoppers want affordable treats the whole family can enjoy -- like ice cream or yogurt parfaits -- plus some quality time with their family, the study highlighted.
Additionally, c-stores can attract shoppers by offering a store where they can ground themselves and clear their heads – what the study characterizes as "My Place."
"This report helps advance the convenience retail industry by providing contemporary growth platforms based on proprietary insights into shopper behavior and the role of convenience in their everyday lives," explained John Essegian, executive vice president, TNS Landis, which conducted the research for the report. "Now, c-stores have a resource that encourages owners and operators to act in fresh ways to meet competitive challenges and distinguish themselves with meaningful new approaches to business."
In the next phase of its work, the council will work to put this information into a broader context by examining how convenience shopping fits in with other shopping occasions and then sharpen the definition of the top-priority growth platforms.
"The insights and understandings we gained from the study's findings give us direction about where we can most productively focus our attention," Bishop added.